The Lyndhurst Portrait

Anne Boleyn
Oil on Panel
22 ½ x 17 inches
©National Trust for Historic Preservation

Object Description:

This painting is executed in oil on a wooden panel and measures in whole 22 ½ x 17 inches.   The painting depicts the head and upper torso of an adult female who appears before a plain brown background.  The sitter is placed behind a red cushion or cloth that has been embroidered with the use of gold thread.  She is turned slightly to the viewers left. 

Her face is oval, with a high forehead.  Her hair is brown in colour, appears straight, and is worn parted in the centre of the crown and pulled back over her ears and under her coif.  Her eyes are brown in colour and her eyebrows are thin and arched.  The nose is slightly arched with a high bridge and her lips are small and thin.  The use of a pink tone has been added to the sitter’s cheekbones and bridge of her nose. 

The sitter’s costume includes a French hood, ending just below the jawline.  This is constructed of black fabric that includes the use of an upper and lower billiment of pearls; thirty-four pearls can be seen in the lower billiament and forty-three pearls have been depicted on the upper billiment.  A black veil is also seen hanging down at the back of the hood and under this the sitter wears a gold coif.  At her neck she wears two strings of pearls with a large letter B pendant of goldsmith work with three hanging pearls suspended from the upper necklace.  A gold chain constructed of circular loops is also seen at the neck, which falls and disappears into the front of the sitter’s bodice.  The gown itself is constructed of a black fabric, cut square at the neck and a chemise, embroidered with blackwork protrudes along the entire bodice margin. The hint of a kirtle made of brown fabric and embellished with forty-six pearls and twenty-two buttons of goldsmith work is also seen around the neckline of the bodice.  Large brown fur sleeves can be seen at the bottom edge of the panel. 

Inscription:

An inscription applied across the top of the panel in a bright yellow pigment identifies the sitter as ANNA REGINA VXOR 2A H 8 or Anna Queen, 2nd wife of Henry 8.

Detail Showing Inscription

Labels and other inscriptions:

A typed label has been applied to the reverse of the panel which reads

 ‘1236 Portrait of Queen Anne Boleyn/ by a Netherlands Master/ of the 16th century/ Stamped seal on back reads/ [  ] chutz. [ ] Zentrelstello [ ]/ Label on back reads/ Invent No. 1236 Preis 712007/ Anne Boleyn/ Von Johennes Corvus, Eng. ad. 1520/ Gutachten Von.’

Artist Association:

The label attached to the reverse of the panel associates the Flemish born painter Johannes Corvus as the artist who created the Lyndhurst portrait.  Born in 1490, Corvus is documented as working in England in the 1520’s and in France. He died in 1545 and a small number of works associated with him are still in collections today.[1]

Condition:

From the high-resolution photograph provided, the panel support appears to be in rather good condition.  The painted surface of the portrait does have some minor paint loss to the face, costume and background and the layer of varnish has discoloured over time.  The painting sits within a frame of moulded gilt with painted geometric designs, this in turn sits within a larger frame of painted wood and red velvet.   

Provenance Information:

The Lyndhurst portrait was purchased on June 7th, 1940 by Anna Gould, Duchess of Talleyrand-Perigord from the Meredith Galleries.  A copy of the bill of sale, recording the purchase of this painting and detailing the amount paid is currently held among the documents in the Lyndhurst archive.[2] 

Anna inherited the Lyndhurst estate on the death of her sister in 1938, however only maintained the estate as a country home and opted to live primarily at a hotel in New York.  Anna died in 1961 and bequeathed the Lyndhurst estate and the portrait to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The Lyndhurst portrait of Anne Boleyn can now be seen today in the Star Bedroom on the second floor of the house. 

Discussion:

Two potential portraits of significance to the Lyndhurst portrait of Anne Boleyn are a portrait of Catherine of Aragon recently sold by the Philip Mould Gallery and another of Jane Seymour currently held in the collection of Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco. 

Catherine of Aragon
Oil on Panel
© Private Collection
Jane Seymour
Oil on Panel
© Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco

Both these portraits appear to have once belonged to part of a larger set of paintings and stylistically both show the naive painting style seen in the Lyndhurst portrait.  All three sitters are seen in an identical composition and are placed behind the embroidered cloth and depicted in front of a plain background.  The portrait of Jane Seymour appears to have been overpainted at some point during its history, however, both paintings have been associated with the artists Johannes Corvus in the past.

All three paintings would benefit from some scientific investigation to a establish a date of creation, origin, and the possible connection that they were all created by the same artist as part of a larger set of portraits depicting King Henry VIII queens. 

A further interesting aspect of the Lyndhurst portrait is the pattern used to create it.  This appears to be almost identical to another portrait of Anne Boleyn sold by the Howard Young Galleries.  The Howard portrait is also painted on panel and is of identical measurements to the Lyndhurst portrait. Unfortunately, this copy has vanished from public record and has not been seen since it was last photographed in 1926.  

Anne Boleyn
Oil on Panel
22 ½ x 17 inches
©National Trust for Historic Preservation
Anne Boleyn
Oil on Panel
22 ½ x 17 inches
© Frick Art Reference Library, New York
Howard Young Inscription Detail
Enhanced Image of Howard Portrait Inscription showing faint letter ‘A’ above the number 2

A detailed photographic image of the Howard portrait is now held in the Frick Art Reference Library, New York.  From this image, we can see that both paintings contain an identical inscription and the composition of the sitter is also identical.  The Howard portrait does appear to have been painted by a more skilled artist than the artist who produced the Lyndhurst portrait, however, this cannot be known for certain until the Howard portrait is located. [3]

There are two possible theories to explain the similarities between both of these portraits.  The first is, that both are separate paintings, painted with the use of an identical pattern that was applied to the panel surface, by the artist, prior to painting.

The second theory is that the Lyndhurst portrait is, in fact, the Howard Portrait which had been heavily overpainted before 1926, when photographed by the Howard Young Galleries.  The photograph itself does suggest that an element of overpainting work has been completed, specifically, on the background.  As seen in the magnified image below, a thick black line can be seen between the edge of Anne’s French hood and the lighter background colour. This suggests that the original background colour of this portrait may possibly have been darker in colour and closer to that seen the Lyndhurst version.

Howard Young-Detail

It is possible that the Lyndhurst portrait may have undergone some restoration and cleaning work in an effort to return it back to its original painted surface prior to the portrait being purchased by the Meredith Gallery and subsequently selling it to Anna Gould. 

Email communication with Lyndhurst has confirmed that their portrait has not undergone any conservation work since it was bequeathed to the Trust in 1961.[4]  As discussed above, the Howard Young Portrait has vanished from public record. I have conducted a thorough search, in an attempt to locate the current whereabouts of this version, however, I have been unable to uncover any documentation concerning this portrait after 1926, when it was photographed by the gallery.

Until the lost Howard Young portrait reappears, I am currently in favour of the second theory being the most plausible one.


[1] Campbell. Gordon, The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance, Oxford University Press, 2003

[2] Email communication between the author and Specialist Project Assistant, dated 18th May 2020

[3] Frick Art Reference Library, Holbein the Younger, Hans 622-12h, accessed May 2020

[4] Email communication between the author and Specialist Project Assistant, dated 17th September 2020

11 thoughts on “The Lyndhurst Portrait

  1. Great article – look forward to more.

    There does seem to be a slight and perhaps trivial difference between the Lyndhurst and Howard Young examples. In the former, the inscription has 2A with the superscribed letter ‘A’, to stand for ‘secunda’; whereas in the latter it looks to me as if the letter is missing, and that just the digit 2 is inscribed.

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    1. Thank you and glad you liked it. Yes, you are absolutely right the ‘A’ does appear to be missing from the Howard Young Portrait. If the Lyndhurst portrait is the Howard Young portrait then the background must have been over painted as it is a lot lighter in the Howard portrait. One simple explanation is that the ‘A’ was merely painted out. The truth is, I’m not 100 percent certain at the moment that they are two separate painting. I will, however, continue to look for the lost Howard portrait, but, the similarities are striking.

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      1. Thanks.
        The details of the text on the label/stamped seal on the back of the portrait sound intriguing. Though apparently incomplete, in German they appear to allude to value and a catalogue number, and an ‘expert assessment by’ (‘gutachten von…’ [name missing]) at some headquarters or main office (Zentralstelle). This is probably when a link to Johannes Corvus was proffered. It would be fascinating to know the history of this labelling, indicating perhaps a sale at auction in Germany

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  2. Excellent detective work!
    I think Corvus has also been said to be the painter of the so-called Mary Tudor (sister of Henry VIII) picture at Sudeley Castle, and the popular one of Katherine of Aragon (Boston Museum of Fine arts, and The NPG, London).

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    1. Thank you. Yes, Corvus has been associated with those works. His existence was found by George Vertue when examining an old frame on which he found his name. Since this discovery many worked have been associated with him.

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  3. Excellent detective work!

    I think Corvus has also been linked to a picture supposedly of Henry VIII’s sister Mary Tudor (at Sudeley Castle), and the popular one of Katherine of Aragon (versions in The Boston Museum of Fine Arts and in The NPG, London).

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      1. Hello AJT,
        Thanks for your input about the ‘Cast Shadow Master’ painter (as described by Roy Strong).
        The picture posted at the ‘Anne Boleyn Files’ is the same Howard Young painting, though for some reason, a shadow seems to be there that isn’t seen here. Maybe there wasn’t a shadow at all. It’s just a bad reproduction of the HY portrait.

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      2. Hi, Thank you RH and AJT for you comments. This is exactly what I wanted this website to do, start discussion.
        I must admit the picture posted on the Anne Boleyn Files website is strikingly similar to the Howard Young Portrait. I am inclined to agree with RH that it is probably just a bad reproduced of the same picture. It would be interesting to know the source for this particular picture though.

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  4. I absolutely love ‘both’ of these portraits. I am actually hoping that they are two different portraits. I think they are both beautiful. It would be such a shame if the Howard Portrait were ‘ruined’ so to speak! But I love the Lyndhurst Portrait also. Thank you so much for bringing it to light! I love the connection with the other two portraits, and the fact that Johannes Corvus has been connected separately to all of three portraits is amazing! There is something about Johannes Corvus that just draws you in. I also remember the article at the Anne Boleyn files by Richard Masefield, and I wanted to re-read it before commenting. I remember finding it *fascinating*. I never could buy the painting he points out as an original, due to the inscription (that it was inscribed at all speaks against it being an original, the fact that it refers to Anne as Henry’s *2nd* wife seems highly impolitical *g*), but nevertheless it was a highly fascinating read which I think stuck with all of us, and I have never been able to admiss the idea that Joos van Cleve perhaps indeed did paint the original of the B pattern on the French visit of Henry VIII and Anne and Mary Boleyn in 1532. Thank you so much again for writing this, your articles are always such a joy to read! 😊😊😊

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